8 May 2015

Pacific has nine of the ten fattest countries

10:03 am on 8 May 2015

Figures released by the World Health Organisation show nine out of the ten most obese countries in the world are in the Pacific.

The Cook Islands tops the list, with 50.8 percent of its people being classified as obese.

In another two Pacific countries - Palau and Nauru - more than 45 percent of people have been classified as obese.

Samoa, Tonga and Niue are all on just over 43 percent respectively, with the Marshall Islands on 42 percent.

And Kiribati and Tuvalu round out the top ten with just over 40 percent of their population being obese.

The WHO's Pacific Health Systems and Policy Team Leader, Dr Ezekiel Nukuro says obesity is just one part of an increasing non-communicable disease epidemic in the region.

"The Pacific now is in NCD crisis and the problem appears to be intensifying, at this stage NCDs now account for about three out of four deaths reported in the Pacific are due to non communicable diseases."

Dr Nukuro says the region's health ministries are doing their best to target the causes of lifestyle diseases, including smoking, drinking alcohol, bad nutrition and a lack of exercise.

The burden of NCDs is overwhelming public health systems in the Pacific, which also has the worst diabetes rates.